A 24-year-old from Carmarthen has opened the first zero-waste shop in Carmarthenshire, following support from Big Ideas Wales.
A former ward clerk at Glangwili Hospital, Jessica gave up her job to follow a personal mission in reducing her own plastic usage. An ongoing journey to find products sold without plastic packaging left her realising there were little alternatives in the area.
Zero-waste shops cut down on single-use packaging and can help combat food waste as customers only buy the amount they need. The shop will sell a variety of items from rice to spices and weekly essentials such as cereals, fruit and vegetables.
Jessica’s shop fixings have been created using as much salvageable materials as possible. The table and shelving are made of pallets, a bookcase has been made of old floorboards and a fruit and veg section made of scaffolding boards and apple crates. The counter even has pitch pine panels that came out of a church.
Jessica said: “I decided I wanted to cut down my plastic usage after watching documentaries showing the impact signal use plastics are having on the environment. I started making changes to my own lifestyle for instance buying naked shampoo which resembles a soap and doesn’t come in a plastic bottle. From this small step I began to cut out all single use plastics.”
In October last year, Jessica visited a zero-waste shop in Narberth for the first time which inspired her to set up her own shop.
Jess said: “I found it extremely hard and often frustrating trying to cut down on the amount of plastic I was using but having no way of facilitating it in Carmarthen. When I discovered zero-waste shops elsewhere, I felt really motivated to open my own business that would not only reduce my impact on the environment but help others in the community do the same.
“Zero Waste is exactly what The Green Scoop is about, using what we have as much as we can. Reusing, repurposing and creating wonderful things. We wouldn’t throw away something that could be used for something else.”
Jessica started her business with the help of Big Ideas Wales, the youth entrepreneurship service in Wales. Big Ideas Wales is part of Business Wales and is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund. The service is aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea.
Jessica found out about Big Ideas Wales through Business Wales who she contacted for some advice on her business plan who then informed her of the service.
Talking about the service Jessica said: “Big Ideas Wales was a great help, especially my business advisor David Bannister who really knew his stuff. He helped me with my business plan and the financial side of starting a business which I struggled with before. He was also instrumental in me achieving my start-up loan which meant I could open my shop”.
Jessica has also taken advantage of some of Big Ideas Wales’ events hosted across Wales for budding businesspeople.
She continued: “I’ve attended a few events with Big Ideas Wales, including a networking event and a residential three-day Bootcamp to Business earlier this year. This allowed me to meet likeminded young people as well as Big Ideas Wales’ Role Models who have been successful in running their own businesses. I learnt so much and I left feeling so inspired and ready to begin my own business journey.”
Jessica already has her sights set on expanding The Green Scoop and is currently crowdfunding to set up a café and community space in the shop. She said: “I want it to be a place for the community to come and learn about how they can make changes to cut down their plastic waste as well as other creative classes. In the café I also want to have a ‘pay it forward’ scheme where people can pay for a drink or lunch for someone in the community who may not be able to afford it.”
David Bannister, Big Ideas Wales business advisor, said: “Jessica set up her business as she wanted to make a change and help others do the same. She’s very driven to run a business that will promote change in her community. I wish her all the best with the launch and the future of her business.”